There has been a lot of talk recently on several prepper websites about the possibility of the American government using digital data surveillance to put preppers on a government blacklist of some kind. With all the news recently about the NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, and more recently, reports of government agencies demanding password files from the county’s biggest internet providers, what was once thought of as pure paranoia is now a legitimate concern.
Many preppers use the internet to communicate with other preppers either by email, online forums and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Some are claiming that government agencies are monitoring these communications and adding preppers to some sort of “prepper list” that will be used for notorious reasons as the government continues to exert more control over all of our communications industries. This has many preppers asking if there is any legitimacy to these concerns. In this article we will separate the myths from fact when it comes to online government surveillance and give you some great tips on what you can do to stay under the radar of big brother dot gov .
Evidence and Facts
In the last 10 years, there is a growing amount of evidence that government adding preppers to some sort of blacklist isn’t as far-fetched as once thought. When all this evidence is added together, it’s hard not to think that SOMEONE is watching whenever you make a post about preparedness or are critical of the government.
In March of 2012 SurvivalBlog.com had found that the FBI had been covertly monitoring and redirecting a portion of their web traffic to a government data center located in Clarksburg, WV. Here is a link to the whole story on SurvivalBlog.com
It has been recently discovered that over the last 3 years, the IRS has been illegally targeting “conservative” non-profit groups and denying non-profit statuses subjectively. On Jan 25th 2012, the IRS flat out stated publically that they are now expanding their flagging system to scrutinize any group that is involved in “political action type of organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform…”
Take a minute and search for the term ‘preppers” in Google news. It is no secret that the media, along with the government is actively trying to discredit the preparedness movement and is classifying all of us as “Extremists” Even popular TV shows like “Doomsday Preppers” is simply a way to poke fun and manipulate the perception of modern preppers.
It seems like every day there is a new story about local code enforcers cracking down on modern homesteaders. Front yard gardens, raising meat animals and the myriad of new Home Owners Associations banding together with local and state law enforcement in an effort to root out and excommunicate families from their neighborhoods. Now, code enforcers and state governments are taking a chapter out of the fed’s book and are using satellite imaging systems to compile information about properties and to help enforce overzealous codes to further restrict the liberties of modern homesteaders.
Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) has blown the top off and publically exposed of the once top-secret government PRISM program. The PRISM program is an elaborate data mining operation that the government has been using for years to monitor, collect and store digital data collected from private citizens. In a nutshell, the government can, at any time, pull up encrypted data communications from private citizen’s email, phone records and any other digital communications media it wishes under complete autonomy and without permission or oversight.
Most recently, dozens of the country’s top internet service and application providers are coming forward and revealing that the federal government is actively demanding the ability to decrypt passwords from private citizens email accounts all over the world. The reasons for these demands have not been given, however many companies are standing firm and claim that providing this information will actually cause them liability under existing computer security laws and regulations.
With all this evidence, once thought to be only the ramblings of a few extreme alternative media outlets, it is very hard to argue that the government could be targeting preppers for reasons not yet disclosed.
What Can You Do to Stay Off .Gov Radar?
In today’s modern online society, staying anonymous is difficult. In fact, if you use the internet or a cell phone in any capacity, it’s likely that you will never be TRULY off the radar as far as the government is concerned. However there are a few things you can do to help you limit your exposure and prevent being added to any sort of “list” they may or may not be compiling.
· Use an internet proxy service – one of the easiest ways to be found using online data is through your internet connection’s unique IP address. Using a proxy service will allow you to navigate the internet using the IP address of another computer. Here is a great article on how to use a proxy to stay more anonymous on the internet.
· Change your passwords often – One advantage we have right now is that even if someone were to obtain your email password, changing your password will make your old one useless. It is a good idea to regularly change your passwords for all online services that you use. Be sure to use a password that will not be easily broken by using a mixture of capital letters, symbols and numbers.
· Recent discoveries about online government surveillance have shown that credit and debit card transactions have been requested from many of the top online retailers. This doesn’t mean you have to stop ordering online completely; however there is something to be said about paying with cash, anonymously at local businesses. Additionally, you could purchase pre-paid gift cards with cash at a local store and use them online anonymously for anything you want to purchase. Another way to mitigate this issue and stay off the radar completely is by using barter with private individuals. Not only does this build community relations and keep you off government radar, it is also one of the last tax-free forms of commerce left.
· Face to face communication – Although cell phones and email have made it easy to stay connected with friends and family it does leave a paper trail. When possible, try to communicate about more sensitive topics like preparedness face to face. This will ensure that the conversation will not be monitored or collected.
· Pick and choose what you share online – There are hundreds of social media outlets and online forums dedicated to the preparedness lifestyle on the internet. They are a great resource for information and to reach out to like-minded people. However, they are also under scrutiny from government surveillance. Although using a proxy service can mitigate a lot of these concerns, it is good practice to limit the amount of public conversation about prepping. Not only will it help you stay under the radar, but from a tactical perspective, it is a good idea to keep the details of your preps and preparedness plans to yourself.
After looking at the facts, it’s easy to see that the days of private phone calls, wiretap warrants and an anonymous internet are long gone, despite what existing laws say. It appears that government, in the name of protecting us, has decided that those laws do not apply to them and are using sophisticated monitoring systems to track us online. Whether this means that they are targeting preppers specifically or are adding preppers to some sort of “blacklist” is currently unknown, but it certainly is a possibility we should prepare for.